Videos

5th Division Memorial at Polygon Wood [AWM F00167]

This short silent film shows the recently completed Fifth Australian Division Memorial at Polygon Wood, Zonnebeke, c.1919.

Text description

[On a black screen text inside a plain white border reads, "5th Division Memorial at Polygon Wood."

A tall obelisk of pale bricks stands at the end of a path. Two dark figures stand at the base. Beyond the tower, barren dark land stretches to the horizon. Four soldiers file up stairs and walk across a grassy hill to the obelisk.

The Rising Sun badge appears in white on a black screen. A semicircle of sword and bayonet blades arches over a crown. Below, two curved scrolls read "Australian Commonwealth Military Forces".]

General Rawlinson and staff (Australian Topical Events No.1)

Group photograph of General Sir Henry Rawlinson and staff. The General briefing his staff and scenes around Australian artillery lines. [AWM F00010]

Text description of video: 'General Rawlinson and staff'

[On a title card a swirly border featuring the Rising Sun Badge surrounds the words "Australian Topical Events No. 1."

Title card: General Sir Henry Rawlinson and Staff.

On a text card a plain border surrounds the words "The Commander and his Major Generals".

A dignified man with a neat moustache sits on a chair. Behind him, a line of five officers stand on or near a wooden walkway. Smiling for the camera, General Sir Henry Rawlinson and some of the officers hold sticks. They move away, revealing the train carriage behind them.

Text card: The Fourth Army Commander in his Office, informing his Staff of the recent advances.

General Sir Henry Rawlinson moves divider callipers across a wall map of Europe. He maintains the same distance between the callipers' two pointed legs. He glances at the camera, nods and smiles.

Title card: In and Around Australian Artillery Lines.

Text card: A typical Australian Shell Dump.

Soldiers move large metal artillery shells from neat piles. Another soldier tosses equipment from piled crates to another soldier.

Text card: Loading limbers with 18 pounders and rushing them up to the guns.

In a field, piled crates with open sides form improvised shelves. Soldiers take shells from the crates and pass them down a line to a cart. On the cart, the shells are placed in separate compartments in a rack. Standing by the team of four horses, a man taps a stick. Beyond the horses, vehicles stand in a line.

Text card: Brigade Artillery Wagon Lines.

A four-horse team stands hitched a loaded cart. Soldiers and equipment dot the field. A truck trundles along a distant road. Small carts stand in rows. Near a pup tent a soldier in his shirt sleeves wipes his hands. The pup tent is a canvas sheet over a long beam. On the edge of the field, houses are nestled in among trees.

Text card: Artillerymen lining up for dinner, the cookhouse being a little village house behind their guns.

Soldiers holding plates and tins queue outside a brick building. Food is doled out from a doorway and from a smoking metal drum outside the door. Cloth hangs over the entrance of a pup tent. Sitting out the front, soldiers eat.

Title card: Their dumb friends having a rest, and grazing in the lines.

Dark horses graze in a large grassy field. Beyond the field buildings stand among trees.

The Rising Sun badge appears in white on a black screen. A semicircle of sword and bayonet blades arches over a crown. Below, two curved scrolls read "Australian Commonwealth Military Forces".]

Prime Minister Rt Hon WM Hughes visits Western Front [AWM F00014]

The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, Sir Joseph Cook (Australian High Commissioner to Great Britain) and General Sir [William] W R Birdwood visiting the 5th Divisional Headquarters at St Gratien on 2 July 1918 and later with the 2nd Division troops near Camon on 3 July 1918 during a tour of the Australian front. Sir Joseph Cook addressed the men of the 2nd Division AIF. Lieutenant General John Monash is seen with Prime Minister Hughes, shaking General Birdwood's hand, and saluting at 5th Division Headquarters and also with General Birdwood at 2nd Division Headquarters.

Text description

[Billy Hughes, a stocky man with a wizened face, steps from a car to the front steps of a building. He shakes hands with an officer. Hughes and officers stand talking on the steps, then head inside. A car stops at the stately front stairs of a building. Officers line the stairs. As he walks down the stairs, Hughes shakes hands with them. He enters the car. Soldiers salute as the car drives off.

Standing on a pile of crates, a bearded man in a suit and hat addresses the large group of soldiers sitting on the ground facing him. Billy Hughes lies on his stomach behind the box, reading and smoking. As the bearded man walks away, soldiers clap and Hughes gets up. A wider shot shows the bearded man addressing the soldiers standing and sitting in a large circle before him. Trees line the edge of the field.

The Rising Sun badge appears in white on a black screen. A semicircle of sword and bayonet blades arches over a crown. Below, two curved scrolls read "Australian Commonwealth Military Forces".]

Villers-Bretonneux

Unveiling of the memorial at Villers-Bretonneux, the Somme, France, by King George VI, accompanied by Queen Elizabeth and the President of France, Albert Lebrun [on 22 July 1938]. Photographed for the Commonwealth Government by Movietone News. [AWM F00175]

Text transcript

The movie begins with the dignitaries on the official dais as King George VI's unveiling speech begins. Queen Elizabeth stands to his left on the right of screen, the chaplain to his right.

King George's halting speech:

This ridge on which we stand surveyed those hard-fought actions. And the monument that crowns it will commemorate them for all time. Its very surroundings are emblematic of that comradeship which is what works of our British Empire. For it looks down on a hallowed field beneath whose soil consecrated by the God and of our glorious memory, lie the men who came from every corner of the earth to fight for ideals that are common to the whole Empire. They rest in peace. While over them all, Australia's Tower keeps watch and ward. It is fitting that it should do so and as your king I feel a great pride in unveiling it. Pride and a deeper sense of reverence and gratitude towards those whose last resting place it guards.

As King's speech concludes, the movie cuts to the unveiling as the Australian flags that have been covering the main entry to the Memorial building are dropped down. The crowd applauds and heraldic trumpets begin to play as the movie cuts to a wide shot of the official dais, then to crowds in front of the left wing of the memorial, then to a close up of the sculptural detail above the entrance that has been revealed.

Heraldic trumpets continue …
The movie cuts to a wide shot of the official dais now seen to be located in front of the memorial entry. The dignitaries have now turned back to face the entry.

The movie cuts to a closer view of the English King and Queen with their backs turned to face the memorial.

As the trumpets conclude, the movie cuts to a long shot of the memorial scene in which rows of soldiers can now be seen in the foreground facing back to the memorial in the background.

The movie cuts to a view of the dais, with the Memorial tower and entry behind it, as the 'Lord's Prayer' is recited by the chaplain.

… this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them who trespasses against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever and ever amen.

The movie cuts to a view of the memorial bell tower … as the movie's narrator begins …

[Narrator]: The Buglers of His Majesty's Grenadier Guards …

Buglers in the bell tower play the 'Last Post' as the movie cuts to a wide view of the dais and memorial entry with a crowd of soldiers in the foreground, some saluting. As the 'Last Post' concludes, the movie cuts back to the view of the centre dais and the main group of dignitaries.

With a wide shot of the dais, the narrator speaks …

[Narrator]: One minute of silent prayer is broken only by the roll of drums.

[Sound of military snare drums.]

With a high shot of the memorial tower against the sky, the narrator continues …

[Narrator]: … then the triumphant notes of the Reveille.

[Buglers sound the Reveille]

During the Reveille the movie cuts back to the dais, to the bell tower and to a section of crowd.

The movie cuts to a view of the choir with soldiers in regimental uniform in the foreground.

[Narrator]: The 'Hymn of Valiant Hearts' led by the chaplain echoes far away down the ranks.

The choir sings 'Hymn of Valiant Hearts' during which, the movie cuts back to the main dignitaries who also stand and sing holding their programmes.

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

[Narrator]: In honor of President Lebrun, the French Republic, there follows The Marseillaise …

[Band plays portion of the French National Anthem.]

[Narrator]: … and finally our own national anthem.

[Band plays as the choir sings 'God Save our King']

[Narrator]: The ceremony of dedication over, the royal party moves from dais to lay their tributes on the steps of the memorial.

The movie cuts to various shots as the dignitaries as they walk down from the front of the dais and slowly around towards the memorial entry. Solemn orchestral music is heard to play.

[Narrator]: On the way there is a brief halt while the President presents to His Majesty, General Castelnau, whose memorable part in the heroic resistance at Verdun is already recorded in history.

Solemn music continues to play throughout with various shots of dignitaries and the crowd at the memorial.

[Narrator]: Standing in respectful silence, guests await the climax of the ceremony. Notice the young Australian blue gums planted in the forecourt.

[The King and Queen are shown laying wreaths at the steps of the memorial entry, then looking upward at the tower above them with the other dignitaries.]

[Narrator]: The wreath barriers, ex soldiers whose vocation now is to tend the graves of their comrades … are wearing for this occasion their AIF uniform. His Majesty and President Lebrun lay their wreathes simultaneously. Then Sir Earl Page, in laying a wreath on behalf of the Commonwealth government, acknowledges the tributes of Great Britain and France and pays homage for the people of Australia. Unforeseen [to] all-present—there follows the kindliest of all, pictured now and never to be forgotten the Queen, every eye upon her, and every heart instantly attune, lays on the King's wreath the Flanders Poppy, which the child held [for] her. Hearts are overflowing at this dramatic moment as eyes are lifted to the great memorial towering above.

At the conclusion, the music ends and the movie cuts to a wide shot of the waiting crowd and the sound of cheering who begin to mill around the dignitaries as they walk through.

[Narrator]: Leaving the inner sanctuary, the King and Queen and President are greeted with an outburst of cheering, for the rank of guests can keep their emotions pent up no longer. It is a triumphant and completely informal progress back to the meeting point. Eager, friendly crowds pressing in on every side.

The King and Queen are shown moving along the front of the memorial area away from the building with the crowd on both sides, the crowd is heard giving three cheers.

As the movie concludes, vibrant music and the sound of cheering continues with various views of the dignitaries as they begin to leave through the crowds led by two Australian soldiers. The crowd raise their hats in salute and wave as they pass.

Kanit Wanachote speaking about his reasons for creating a memorial park for ‘Weary’ Dunlop.

Text transcript

He was very brave, he was really. ... He cared for the others, and he thought of the others' trouble. He didn't want anything back, and very brave ... [and] sacrificed himself for all the prisoners of war. ... And all the prisoners of war love him very much. From them, I know about the legendry. ... So, when he died, I made up my mind to have Weary Dunlop Park in memory of him.

Footage taken by the Australian War Graves Commission survey party as it travelled up the Thai–Burma railway shortly after the war. Here, a truck fitted with rail wheels travels over Three-tier Bridge near Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting) and Wampo viaduct. At this time the railway was still relatively intact, but the section near Hellfire Pass was removed after the war. The current railway still uses the Wampo viaduct, which has been repaired over the years. [AWM F07346]

Text description of archival video of Three-tier Bridge and Wampo viaduct

The 24 seconds of black and white film footage is part of that taken by the Australian War Graves Commission survey party as it travelled up the Thai–Burma railway shortly after the war.
In the first scene, a truck, open on three sides and fitted with rail wheels travels from left to right over the Three-tier Bridge near Hellfire Pass (Konyu Cutting) and Wampo viaduct. From the camera's low angle perspective at the base of the viaduct, the characteristic criss-cross patterns of the wooden trestle construction is clearly evident.
In the second scene, the truck travels away from the camera, cutting to a wide view of the viaduct - with the sheer limestone cliff face above. Finally, in the last scene, the camera shifts position and captures the truck travelling right to left across another more open section of the bridge.

Bert Beecham talks about the terrible treatment of the POWs by the Japanese on the Thai–Burma railway and the awful conditions of the camp.

Read more about the treatment of prisoners on the Thai–Burma railway.

“The treatment of the POWs working on the railway line was absolutely horrendous. Not only in the way they were treated, the way they were fed, the way they were beaten, they way they were abused, the way they had no clothing. Some of ’em were working in bare feet and a piece of rag tied ‘round their waist ... The food was disgusting if you got it at all, sometimes twice a day, at one stage there we got it once a day and people were dying like flies. We had cholera, we had malaria, we had dysentery, we had scrub typhus, we had beri beri.”

Tom Uren speaks here of his mate, Bill Halliday, on the Thai–Burma railway, and how mateship changed them both.

Read more about illness and death on the Thai–Burma railway.

“In the sick bay, when he was back in the camp, I would go over to see him. And in the early days when I’d go over to see him and take him something, if I could scrounge something to take to him, he was never really grateful, there was no mateship. He was always kind of whingeing. But, as the time went on, his hope grew in him and he used to look forward to seeing me and I used to look forward to seeing him. And I’ll never forget, he was so skinny that you could see his backbone through his stomach, lying on that bed. And he had this awful leg. And the stench of the ulcer wards - it’s like death itself. ... But the thing about Bill Halliday, was that even though he was a whinger and a whiner in those early days, in the end, you know, he used to look forward to seeing me and I would look forward - but his eyes, they shone - beautiful eyes. I can just see them. They shone like beacons in the night. Just, it was so beautiful - you couldn’t help but love the guy for it.”

Dr Rowley Richards remembers how some prisoners, while being cared for by their mates, would often appear to recover, but then seem to lose the will to live.

Read more about illness and death on the Thai–Burma railway.

“I had always believed that there was a will to live and if that will to live disappeared, well, you died. There’s much more to it than that, I’m sure of that. It’s a bit like bone pointing. You point the bone at yourself I guess. I’ve seen many cases of fellows who have been nigh unto death for maybe a couple of weeks, semiconscious most of the time, being handfed by their mates, amazing to still stay alive. And then when they recover from that and they’re starting to be getting better, or think they’re getting better, they just up and die on you. And I think what happened to them was that they would look around and see fellows dying around them and think, ‘Oh, it’s too hard, no, let me go.’”

Ray Parkin speaks about how, through his drawing and painting, he could share the beauty of nature with other prisoners in the jungles of Thailand.

Read more about how prisoners stayed sane on the Thai–Burma railway.

“Well I drew a lot of insects, butterflies, all sorts of things like that. Flowers, anything; but also, I had plenty of blokes to help me because as we went out we used to find things to discuss and we would discuss the new flowers that were out or what was happening, you know, the general state of nature as we went out. And I had, all the blokes around me were collecting butterflies and insects, ‘Have you got this, have you got that?’ ‘Course, I didn’t have time to paint it all. But still, with the butterflies, course, there were millions of them up there, beautiful, in flocks. And, I couldn't paint them but all the blokes were still bringing them back, so what we did we got little slivers of bamboo and made pins out of them and on the inside of the atap hut we’d pin these things on the ceiling and we had a ceiling covered with these beautiful butterflies and everything and I thought, ‘Well this is better than the Sistine Chapel ever could be!’”

Bill Coventry describes the Australian prisoners' experience of learning to cook rice, which was the main food supplied by the Japanese.

Read more about food on the Thai–Burma railway.

“Australia didn’t know how to cook rice in the thirties and forties, not like we do today. So they asked all the fellows to supply their dixies, which is our eating dixie, and we dug a long trench, several long trenches, gathered up burnable material and made long fires and put the rice - I mean, they knew that you boiled rice. So you put a dixie of rice, and you put some water in it and put it in the fires and, of course, as the water boiled, the rice came over the top of the dixies and put the fire out and then it didn’t cook and everything. Oh. But slowly, as time went by, we learned how to cook rice didn’t we?”

Pat Darling recalls her experience of the plane that came to release them from their prison camp and take them home after the war had ended.

Read more about the experience of the nurses as prisoners of the Japanese.

“Eventually we saw a plane arriving and it landed and the first person off was Dr Harry Windsor ... and he looked at us, we were the only standing people, and he said, ‘Where are the Australian nurses?’ and we laughed and said, ‘We're here!’ ‘Cause we were dressed as best as we could be ... Matron looked at us. Somebody said, ‘But who are you?’ and she said, ‘I'm the mother of all of you and ever since I’ve had this position I’ve wanted to find out where – I was determined to find you.’ And she said, ‘Where are the rest of you?’ and of course there was silence for a moment then a voice, I don't know whose it was, just said, ‘They’re all dead.’”

On the Border

This film gives some insight into the type of terrain and jungle through which Australians patrolled in Borneo. The value of helicopters in lifting men to and from operations is also evident as is the role played by Iban people in guiding the Australians through this unfamiliar country. [AWM F04666]

[In black and white footage a soldier holding a gun and carrying radio gear on his back moves through a sea of dense, head-high vegetation. Another soldier follows, holding his rifle across his chest. Soldiers move warily from the jungle into a clearing.

Soldiers crouch in a circle. One points to a diagram on the ground. Soldiers talk and smile. One soldier is a local.

The soldiers move through different areas of jungle, at times struggling against the thick vegetation. Holding their rifles ready, they constantly scan the area.

A helicopter descends into a clearing near jungle-clad mountains, landing by piled equipment. An empty helicopter lands. Holding their packs in one hand, soldiers run across and quickly clamber inside. The commander ushers his men into the helicopter before joining them. "Royal Air Force" is painted above the door. Rotors spinning, the helicopter takes off. It lands. A number of insignia, featuring crowns, are painted on the side of a helicopter.

Soldiers patrol through the jungle. Soldiers crouch in discussion. One draws on his hand with his finger. Soldiers wade through waist-high vegetation. They crouch together in a clearing. The leader points at a diagram on the ground. The leader stands talking to his men. Wearing headphones over his hat, a soldier speaks.]

Malaya Patrol – The Story of Australian Troops in Malaya

This lengthy piece of film was produced by Defence Public Relations and shows the work of the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, in Malaya. [AWM F11436]

[In faded colour footage, soldiers in WWII tropical uniforms, including cloth hats, wade waist-deep in a river, then stride up the bank and disappear into thick jungle. They hold their rifles ready and wear packs and rolls on their backs. A yellow title reads, 'Malaya Patrol: The Story of Australian Troops in Malaya’. Yellow credits: Produced by The Directorate of Public Relations.]

VOICEOVER: Toward the end of 1955, the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, together with supporting arms, arrived in Malaya as Australia's contribution to the anti-terrorist campaign. Australian troops are now operating in Perak state, in North Malaya.

[By a broad river, a stately building featuring towers and domes stands in a jungle clearing. Soldiers in slouch hats, their sleeves rolled up, peer at an elegant building. A huge blueish dome tops one section of the building. The arched entryway is topped with a smaller dome and flanked with two black-and-white striped towers and several smaller spires. Keyhole archways line a porch. In the forecourt, Australian soldiers sit by a railing.]

VOICEOVER: Here in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar is the palace of His Highness the Sultan of Perak. Surrounded by fine lawns and spacious gardens, the istana and mosque dominate the town.

[Aerial footage shows a compound of low buildings surrounded by scrubby trees. By a road, a sign reads "3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment". On a red and white sign, the words "Halt! All enquiries" appear above an arrow. A two-storey building is lined with archways and columns. A palm tree towers behind it]

VOICEOVER: Outside the town, in the old palace, is the headquarters of the 3rd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment.

[On a strip of land between two waterways, low buildings line dirt roads. A hand points at a wall map. More low buildings sit around a lake. On a red and white sign "CP 57" is painted beside an arrow. On a white building, a sign reads "Police Station." Near a corrugated iron building, soldiers peer at a document, then point.]

VOICEOVER: A Company is located 40 miles away, at Lasah, B Company, 20 miles away, at Sungai Siput. Also in Sungai Siput is the battalion command post.

[A man rides a bicycle down a wide street past tropical two-storey buildings. A mountain topped with a rocky peak looms behind the town. Nestled among palm trees, a stately white building has a tall pointed spire and arched entrances. In a market place, sellers display their wares under marquees and in stalls. In a store, meat hangs from hooks. Dishes are displayed on a bench. Bullocks pull a two-wheeled cart through town.]

VOICEOVER: In 1948, when the Malayan Emergency began, at Ayer Hitam, in Johor, the communist terrorists struck simultaneously in the Sungai Siput area. The government of the United Kingdom stepped in with troops to suppress the communists. The 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, was relieved by the 3rd Battalion in November 1957.

[A hand points a pencil at a wall map.]

VOICEOVER: The 3rd Battalion area covers some 370 square miles. This area is deep jungle. This area is fairly clear of jungle and comprises in the main rubber estates and other cultivations.

[In aerial footage, mountains carpeted with thick jungle rolls to the horizon. A valley is dotted with blue lakes, plantations of thick trees planted in neat rows and patches of stripped, barren dirt. A river winds through the valley. In a rubber plantation a local man strips bark from a rubber tree by running a blade around the trunk. A spout is stuck into the trunk. The rubber sap runs down the spout into a small cup.]

VOICEOVER: In the battalion area are mountains rising several thousand feet, often jungle-clad to the summit. Also in their area is the Kinta Valley – richest tin field in the world. The mighty Perak River forms one boundary of the battalion area. Swamps abound in the forest reserves. Rubber is to be seen flanking almost every road, and the native population go about their tasks.

[In a field, a farmer wearing a wide straw hat gathers a crop. On a road, an overloaded van passes bullocks pulling a cart. The bullock driver has a white beard and a large red turban. Officers stand on a road. A black car pulls up between them. The driver gets out and opens the boot. An officer peers inside. Cyclists ride past. The officer gestures. The driver shuts the boot and drives off. A truck's trailers are piled high with wooden crates. Officers peer through gaps under the crates. A soldier searches a car trunk.]

VOICEOVER: On the roads, the Civil Police maintain checkpoints to stop the transfer of food from inside the towns to hungry communist terrorists outside. The present phase of operations is basically one of food denial, and all civilians and civil vehicles passing the checkpoints are searched for concealed food. The regulations even forbid rubber tappers to carry their lunch outside the towns. A strict curfew is imposed in rubber estates after 4pm.

[In a rubber plantation a man wearing loose trousers carries a bucket from one slender tree to another. Holding their rifles ready, Australian soldiers move warily through the plantation. Soldiers follow a German shepherd-like dog.]

VOICEOVER: As apparently unconcerned tappers work among the trees, Australian troops leave their transport at the roadside and commence a patrol through the rubber. This is clean rubber, free of undergrowth, and can be moved through with ease. Dirty rubber occasionally has undergrowth shoulder-high or higher. The undergrowth is usually alive with mosquitoes, and progress is slow and painful. Patrol dogs are used extensively.

[12 soldiers in dark green uniforms sit on a grassy bank facing an officer. As he speaks, he checks a document. Some soldiers smoke. The officer shows the soldiers the document. The soldiers climb into an armoured vehicles and sit on benches running down both sides. The thick back doors are closed. The huge, black armoured vehicle trundles past a row of large square tents. Inside, the soldiers smile.]

VOICEOVER: These soldiers are being briefed by their platoon commander to carry out an ambush in daylight on a suspected area where communist terrorists are thought to have food concealed. The briefing completed, they board an armoured personnel carrier, commonly known by the troops as a 'Coffin', to be transported some miles from their camp to a point near the ambush position. To those who knew jungle warfare in the South West Pacific Area during World War Two, this specialised type of warfare will appear unusual. The techniques seen in this film have been developed to deal with the peculiar requirements of the anti-terrorist campaign. On reaching the suspected area, the vehicle slows down and the ambush party bails out as quickly as possible. The vehicle then drives on.

[The soldiers leap from the vehicle and run into the jungle, disappearing into the vegetation. Holding their weapons ready, they move through undergrowth, past slender rubber trees. Crouching and lying in the undergrowth, the soldiers keep their weapons ready as they scan the area. Their uniforms blend with their surroundings.]

VOICEOVER: Having rapidly got clear of the road, the ambush party moves slowly and cautiously toward their objective and take up their concealed positions. The target is covered from all possible angles. Quietly, they wait, suppressing the urge to sneeze or cough. Ants crawl over their hands and faces and arms. Mosquitoes and leeches add to the discomfort.

[The sun shines on the leafy branches of a tall tree. In the undergrowth, the soldiers maintain their positions.]

VOICEOVER: Intelligence reports indicate that the communist terrorists use this unusual tree amongst the rubber as a meeting place. Still they wait, perspiring from every pore. Minutes become hours and the day wears on. Often, these ambushes go on for days.

[In a clearing, smoke billows from a huge gun as it shoots toward jungle-clad mountains. Bare-chested soldiers reload and fire the gun. The barrel sticks through a square of armour plating. A soldier wearing shorts, boots and a hat throws the long metal shell casings away from the gun. They are placed in a pile on the pale sandy ground.]

VOICEOVER: Meanwhile, the 25-pounder guns of 100-A Field Battery, Royal Australian Artillery, fire round after round into the jungle-covered slopes south of Sungai Siput. The aim is to use gunfire and bombing to dislodge the communist terrorists from the ridges and drive them out to the jungle ridge, where a quorum of British, Australian, New Zealand and Gurkha troops is waiting, constantly patrolling, alert for any appearance of the communist terrorists. Empty cartridge cases are thrown aside and dumped out of the way.

[Long, pointed shells are neatly stacked on a rack. Four soldiers work on the gun. A gunner is handed shells, two men load it into the gun. After it's fired, a gunner ejects the spent shell casing. In a tent, shells sit in long stacks. A shirtless soldier rests against ammunition crates. Soldiers rapidly fire the huge gun toward a mountain.]

VOICEOVER: More shells come up, and there are more where these came from. Here in this abandoned tin mine, less than 200 yards in off the main north-south road, Australian gunners are working in sweltering heat, made worse by the glare from the white sands of old tin tailings. The temperature on the sand was 117 degrees Fahrenheit at 11:30am. In the course of the morning, so many rounds were fired that the guns dug themselves in into the soft ground. When the guns stop firing, aircraft commence bombing, rocketing and strafing runs on the same target area.

[Two soldiers standing either side of the gun pull a cord back and forth though the barrel. They stop and watch three fighter planes zoom past. The sleek streamlined planes taper smoothly from their low cockpits to their tails. The gunners light cigarettes. They clean gun components. A mountain topped with a rocky peak looms beyond the clearing.]

VOICEOVER: After a morning's steady shooting, the guns are cleaned and the site reorganised for the next target later in the day. Royal New Zealand Air Force Venoms fly low overhead on their way home after completing their strafing. A welcome breather and then the work goes on.

[A helicopter lands near a tangle of thick trees. A large group of soldiers stand waiting. Soldiers climb in and the camouflage-painted helicopter takes off and flies away into the blue sky. Soldiers pass equipment up into a helicopter, then climb in. It flies away, a soldier sits by the open door. From the helicopter, soldiers are visible standing on a paved road running through the verdant landscape. The helicopter flies over mountains covered with dense jungle. The ground isn't visible through the jungle canopy. The helicopter's shadow moves across trees far below. ]

VOICEOVER: In extremely difficult country where a day's march of 1,000 to 1,500 yards can be considered good going, the helicopter has proved invaluable. The Sycamore, carrying up to three men per lift, can transport troops in six minutes by air over country which could take up to six days to cover on foot. The troops are transported by truck to a point known as the Jalong road-head, where the bitumen road ends on the jungle fringe. From here, men, equipment and supplies are lifted in some 6,000 to 8,000 yards over dense jungle. On this lift, two 'copters speed up the process of lifting a whole platoon, its equipment and 500 pounds weight of rations into a remote jungle landing zone, or LZ.

[At the edge of a jungle clearing, three soldiers wait in the flattened vegetation. The helicopter lands, dwarfed by the surrounding trees. Holding rifles, soldiers jump from the helicopter, pick up bulky packs and head into the jungle. The helicopter takes off.]

VOICEOVER: Deep in the jungle is a small clearing about 100 yards square. Towering all round this clearing are tall trees, some of them over 150 feet high. When all the troops have arrived, the platoon will move away from the clearing into the jungle to make a base camp. From this camp, small patrols will fan out in all directions, searching for the communist terrorists, their camps, resting places, food dumps and tracks. The platoon will remain in the jungle for 11 days, at the end of which, they will be lifted out back to the road-head.

[In the clearing, a bare-chested soldier wears a hat and neck cloth. As a helicopter slowly descends, he waves both arms. A soldier loaded down with equipment walks from a helicopter into the jungle. Soldiers take gear from the helicopter.]

VOICEOVER: A helicopter pilot is guided into the LZ by a marshaller, who indicates required aircraft manoeuvres by hand signals. Thousands of man-hours are spent in this campaign without even sighting a CT. Still more men and equipment arrive. The Bren guns and Owens, which proved themselves in New Guinea, are supplemented by shotguns carried by the forward scouts and the new FN-30 rifles, which are ideal for use in the jungle.

[Through gaps in the airborne helicopter's cockpit, jungle is visible far below. It passes over neat rows of trees. As it lands on the road, a soldier signals. Soldiers unload rectangular fuel cans from a jeep. A soldier pierces the can with a machete. Fuel is poured into a container. The soldiers watch the helicopter take off, its spinning rotors dark in the blue sky.]

VOICEOVER: On completion of the last trip into the jungle, the helicopter returns to the road-head. Here, transport from the battalion is waiting with aviation spirit and oil for refuelling. Having refuelled and completed the mission, the helicopter returns to base at Ipoh some 40 miles south.

[Holding his rifle ready, a soldier moves through head-high grass. He stops and signals. The commander emerges from the grass and surveys the area. More soldiers emerge from the grass. Two soldiers move through the jungle. They crouch. Moving his arm in an arc, one points to a large swathe of jungle. His colleague nods. The first soldier moves away. The second scans the the area his colleague pointed to.]

VOICEOVER: Meanwhile, the platoon has moved from the LZ clearing and is searching for a suitable base camp area. Later in the day, the forward scout calls up the platoon commander. After inspection, the platoon commander decides that this site is suitable and gives the sign, arms outstretched, to the remainder of his platoon to move forward and make camp. In complete silence, except for normal jungle sounds, sentries are posted so that camp preparation can get underway. The sentry carries an Owen gun, the other soldier, an FN-30 rifle.

[In another section of jungle, soldiers tie the corners of a ground sheet to tree trunks. One end is tied lower down, creating an angled shelter. Another ground sheet is placed underneath. Soldiers lather their faces and shave. A soldier places a mess tin of water in on a small stove. A soldier buries rubbish, kicking soil into a hole and stomping it down, then scattering dry leaves over the top.]

VOICEOVER: One party gets busy erecting a hutchie, or shelter made from groundsheets. Others attend to the whiskers. Soon, tea is being brewed. Rubbish is carefully disposed of. The portable transmitter receiver carried on patrol is set up to operate, and the native tracker, a Sarawak Ranger, climbs the nearest tree with the aerial wire. Soon, communications are established and information on progress and position are signalled back to company headquarters.

[A soldier wearing headphones talks with the platoon commander. Near a building, a squat structure has a tall aerial. Near thick bush, a soldier wearing headphones talks into the mouthpiece of a large flat radio. Two soldiers carrying a big spool run yellow cable through the jungle. A third soldier follows, holding his gun ready and scanning the area. The cable is cut and connected to a field phone. A soldier holds the receiver to his ear, then replaces it. He removes the cable and connects it to larger piece of equipment that has many cables running from it. A soldier carries documents from the jungle, puts them in a motorbike saddlebag and rides away. Aerials stand tall in the sky. In a hut, a soldier wearing headphones taps a receiver. Another soldier wearing headphones checks a notepad.]

VOICEOVER: In addition to the regimental signallers with the battalion, there are many members of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals who form the Australian component of the 28th Commonwealth Brigade Signal Squadron at Taiping. This is an integrated unit with both British and Australian personnel. Their tasks are to provide the signals communications within the brigade and forward to the battalions. This involves use of wireless, telephone and dispatch riders, necessitating the setting up in the field of command vehicles from which operations are controlled, the laying of miles of telephone cable and the operation of signals equipment under all types of conditions. Many battles have been lost due to lack of or poor communications. The Royal Australian Corps of Signals plays its part in ensuring that the brigade communications really work.

[Jungle trees and patrolling soldiers are silhouetted against the evening sky. As they move though the trees, rifles ready, the soldiers scan the area. In the pitch darkness, light and smoke fountains from a flare, illuminating the jungle around it.]

VOICEOVER: Day and night, the task of hunting down the communist terrorist goes on. As some patrols return at last light, others will go out, perhaps on patrol, perhaps to set an ambush. This party is setting an ambush for the 53rd successive night. Ambushes are a regular and important part of the anti-terrorist campaign. Automatic weapons – Brens, Owens and FN-30s – are carried on ambushes. Should the communist terrorists walk into their ambush, tripflares will bathe the rubber estate in brilliant light should they blunder in.

[Soldiers move warily through the jungle and splash through water. Gunners fire artillery. Soldiers patrol a rubber plantation and move through chest-high water in a murky river.]

VOICEOVER: Today, with only 30 or 40 communist terrorists in their 370-square-mile area, the battalion's task is not an easy one. Heat and humidity make life far from pleasant. Thousands of man-hours are spent in patrolling rubber and jungle in order that Malaya might be freed from communist terrorism. With true Australian determination, the patrols go on relentlessly.

[From the jungle, a soldier scans the wide river. Credits: An Australian Army Public Relations Film. The End.]

Interview with war correspondent Neil Davis

This excerpt of an interview with cameraman Neil Davis, features the legendary war correspondent speaking about his first experience of armed conflict; the Confrontation with Indonesia in Borneo. Here he speaks about the Ghurkhas and the high regard in which he holds them. [AWM F10571]

[Neil Davis sits facing the camera in relaxed pose with hand on knee in front of a the wall of a building inscribed with the names 'Malaysia 1964-65' and 'Vietnam 1965-72'. Davis is informally dressed in an open neck light shirt with brown pants. His head is turned toward the interviewer whose arm can just be seen on the right. Another incribed title on the wall is shown 'Borneo 1963 65' and semi abstract relief sculptures line the wall, while to the left of Davis a sculpture of an advancing Australian soldier in floppy hat holding a machine gun appears to come out of the wall, his front leg partially submerged in a shallow pond.]

Interviewer: So you left the ABC in Hobart, went to work for Visnews the international film organisation in Singapore.

Neil Davis: Yes, well even though I was based in Singapore I spent very little time there. In fact the first story I covered was in Borneo – Malaysian Borneo – where the newly formed state of Malaysia was being confronted by Indonesia under President Sukarno. It was called Confrontation but of course it was a war, a mini war and I went with British and Malaysian troops – there were a few Australians there too and Gurkha troops who were attached to the British of course.

Interviewer: The Gurkhas had a rather good reputation didn't they?

Neil Davis: A very good reputation, well deserved reputation. Maybe they are the best in retrospect. I think they are probably the best soldiers I was ever with, with some reservations that is they were very very efficient, very very professional, [and] carried out orders. They were the complete hundred percent professionals. The only reservations I had was that they were rather inflexible and that I saw happen once where they went into action and carried out the orders of their commander but the commander was killed. And before his successor in the battlefield could countermand his order to carry out the attack in different way, several of the Gurkhas had been killed. So there is that inflexibility but they were very fine soldiers.

Interviewer:There was an incident where they, Indonesian soldiers had a machine gun post.

Neil Davis: Well, right they a machine gun post rocky hilly country, very well protected. The only way was to climb around. They had to be somewhat rock climbers. Some were quite good rock climbers and the Gurkhas can do just about anything that's called on them to do and they did this and that was an occasion where I think they lost five dead simply because the Indonesians were picking them off the rock face.

Interviewer: When they actually stormed the [rockface]?

Neil Davis: Well eventually they actually stormed the place and killed them without firing a shot if I remember rightly. They killed them with their Kukri. That's this wide bladed knife about that long which is an inverted sort of knife, its concave and they can do a lot of damage with it. [Davis uses his hand to describe the curved shape and large size of a kukri]. It's razor sharp and they can hook a man's head off or his arm.

Interviewer: I believe that they can't, there is something attached to them too.

Neil Davis: Well there is the tradition you don't draw the Kukri unless you draw blood. So that is if you ask a Gurkha to show you his Kukri, he will do it willingly and pull it straight out but then it startles you a little because before he will put it back he will nick his thumb or nick his arm somewhere and draw blood.

2SAS Borneo patrol

This piece of film shows members of an SAS patrol making their way through jungle and across streams – the soldiers look wary and are clearly concentrating on their surroundings. The presence of a camera, however, suggests that this was not a patrol in which the troops were in great danger. Among the most interesting scenes are those in which the troops meet local villagers with whom they share food and cigarettes. [AWM F03767]

[In black and white footage, soldiers in light tropical uniforms and small cloth hats move down a jungle slope and across a shallow stream. They hold their rifles ready. As he heads up a slope a soldier stops and looks around.

Local villagers - men, women and children - sit outside a palm-leaf hut with Australian soldiers. The soldiers are served cups of tea. A soldier hands a woman a cigarette packet. Puffing the cigarette, she examines the packet. A soldier shakes hands with a local man who stares at the camera. The villagers stand waving. A woman with dark curly hair holds a baby.

In thick jungle, soldiers file across a bridge made of three logs. More logs form a rough path past low huts. Holding their rifles ready, the soldiers wade along a stream. The legs of their uniforms are soaked. They scan the jungle warily. Soldiers file along a path through thick jungle. They hold their automatic weapons across their bodies. Sunlight shines through leaves onto a soldier. He wears a cloth around his neck. The soldiers pick their way through thick undergrowth. As one moves carefully across a log, he reaches down toward his knee. They move down a slope toward a stream, then wade across, through the clear knee-high water. In jungle, a soldier ducks under a log. Through long grass, the camera films palm-leaf huts in a clearing. One huts stands on stilts. An Australian soldier stands talking.]

Army Minister visits Borneo troops

This film shows Dr A. J. Forbes, Minister for the Army, on a visit to troops in Borneo. A Duntroon graduate, Forbes had been a soldier himself and is seen in this film as being at ease with soldiers with whom he shares a joke. (3:28 min - BW - Silent) [AWM F03686]

[A sign reads "3 Battalion. The Royal Australian Regt." Above the writing is the unit badge – a wreath of wattle branches is topped with a crown. The base is a boomerang inscribed with "Royal Australian Regiment". Inside the wreathe a kangaroo stands in front of crossed rifles. At its feet a banner reads "Duty first".

Near jungle, a soldier stands with his arms spread - signalling as a helicopter lands. Civilians in hats and business shirts step from a plane. A burly dark-haired man wears his sleeves rolled up. A soldier standing near a pile of sandbags salutes. The soldier walks the minister past palm-leaf buildings and down a road. He points at jungle-clad mountains. They walk past a tractor and a shed with sandbag walls. Soldiers follow them to a large office building that has low stilts, a verandah and neat palm-leaf walls. A soldier in a cloth hat salutes. A rifle is slung over his shoulder.

A tank has "Discoverer" painted under its turret. The tank backs away. The driver's face is visible through a rectangular window. Another soldier stands in the turret. The tank is on four large wheels. The turret spins. Painted beside the cannon is a badge featuring a wreath, a tank and a crown. The cannon is titled upwards at a sharp angle. Its barrel casing is air-cooled - covered in holes. As the cannon tilts upwards, a rectangular sight in the turret tilts backwards.

Three local men stand in near thick vegetation. One points. They all smile. A helicopter lands. A soldier follows the minister from the helicopter. An officer walks up and shakes the minister's hand. The officer wears a rifle slung over his shoulder. The minister listens as the officer speaks. A second soldier wears a beret. As the minister speaks with a small group of soldiers, he smokes a cigarette. A couple of solders are shirtless. The soldiers and minister laugh. A local man watches the minister and soldiers. An officer leads the minister past tangled vegetation. The helicopter takes off. Soldiers watch it fly away.

A broad dirt road leads into scrubby jungle. A huge bulldozer reverses onto the road, a soldier at the wheel. A bulldozer drives down the road on its large wheels. Flattened trees lie beside the road.]

Brigadier Hassett 28 Brigade Malaysia

Brigadier Frank Hassett was one of Australia’s most well-known soldiers at the time of this interview, in which he discusses aspects of Australian’s involvement in the Malayan Emergency [AWM F03648]

[An interviewer in army uniform addresses the camera with a section of strategic map positioned behind him].

Interviewer: I would like to introduce Brigadier F G Hassett who is commander of the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade Group at Taiping in Malaya. Brigadier Hassett is visiting the jungle training centre at Canungra and I wonder sir could you tell us the purpose of your visit here before returning to Malaya?

[Brigadier F G Hassett also in uniform sits facing the camera to the interviewer's left].

Brigadier Hassett: Well I want to see the training facilities and curriculum here at JTC to see how it ties in with the brigade requirements in Malaya.

Interviewer: Now sir could you tell us something about this brigade, exactly what it is?

Brigadier Hassett: Well it's the 28th British Commonwealth Brigade Group of some four and half thousand troops and it has basically three infantry battalions and supporting elements. The battalions coming one from the UK, one from New Zealand and one from Australia. The Australian battalion is of course the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.

Interviewer: Are you the first Australian brigadier whose has had this particular appointment, as I understand you command troops additional to the 28th Brigade.

Brigadier Hassett: Yes, as my command takes in the North Malaya military district as well, a total of some nine thousand Commonwealth troops. The 28th Brigade itself had commanders, Australian commanders, during the Korean War and basically none of the personel have changed. It is still the same formation that fought in the Korean War.

Interviewer: What is it in fact doing in this stage sir?

Brigadier Hassett: Well it has two main tasks. The first one in conjunction with the Federation Army of Malaya is to eliminate the remaining communist terrorists in Malaya and its second task and main task is to train and prepare for its role as the Strategic Reserve in the Far East.

Interviewer: How many CTs [communist terrorists] remain in your area now?

Brigadier Hassett: This is difficult to assess. There are very few and these are near the Thai border in some of the most difficult jungle country in Malaya. I would say there are some 15 to 30 with larger numbers across the Thai border.

Interviewer: I say well now what area is the brigade operating in at this stage?

Brigadier Hassett: Well approximately half the brigade group is in northern Malaya on this communist terrorist chasing role. The remainder are down in the south in a large military cantonment - the Malacca cantonment. The Australian battalion is in Northern Malaya on this operational role. The operational area is very large, and is wild undeveloped jungle area in Northern Perak. This makes it a very fine training area and the soldiers learn to live and fight in this difficult terrain and the emphasis is very much on junior leadership. There is also the element of danger from communist terrorists, which keeps everyone on his toes.

Interviewer: You have mentioned Malacca sir. What are the plans for this area?

Brigadier Hassett: Well, Malacca is of course a famous historical town in southern Malaya. The camp which is called Camp Terendak is some fifteen miles from Malacca town on the Malacca Straits. It's a well-planned modern military camp designed to accommodate the brigade group and its dependents, say some ten thousand people. Facilities at the camp are very good and made for pleasant living.

Interviewer: Speaking of living conditions, how have the Australian troops and their families taken to life in Malaya?

Brigadier Hassett: Well generally speaking and particularly from the family point of view it's regarded as a good station. The cost of living is high but the allowances are properly balanced to offset this. I know that some parents are concerned about their children's education prior to going to Malacca. I think the army's schools there are good and I am glad that I took my children, one of whom is of secondary school age and the other of primary school age. I am glad I took them with me to Malaya because I don't think their formal education has suffered in anyway and I am sure they have benefited from the experience.

Interviewer: So what the duration of a normal tour of duty in Malaya?

Brigadier Hassett: Well it's two years and this seems to be just about right. It's good training and experience for the soldiers and an interesting tour for their families. But the climate is enervating and after about two years most people are looking forward to their return to Australia after a very satisfactory tour.

Interviewer: Thank you very much indeed Brigadier Hassett.

Gunners in Borneo

A brief piece of footage showing an Australian artillery piece in action during confrontation. (1:54 min - BW - Silent) [AWM F03688]

[Soldiers hurry into a large gun placement near the jungle. Most of the soldiers are shirtless. A soldier peers into a sight and adjusts it by turning a lever. In a dark cramped room, a soldier passes a large shell up through a ceiling hatch. Soldiers pass the shell down a line. It is loaded into an 105mm gun. A soldier yanks a control. As the gun fires, the barrel slams backwards. Soldiers quickly reload it. A soldier grabs pointed shells from a rack and passes them along. On the gun, a soldier flicks up a lever, then moves away. Billowing smoke, the gun fires. A soldier quickly lowers the lever and the gun is reloaded.

Soldiers carry shells from the gun and return them to the rack. A soldier winds a lever. The gun barrel is raised. Water is poured on the muzzle. It flows through the holes curving around the muzzle's sides. Soldiers slide a long staff in and out of the barrel. Water dribbles out. A man removes a section of the barrel. A soldier continues cleaning the barrel.

As a helicopter takes off, a soldier loops a cable around the large gun and its trailer. The helicopter lifts the gun into the air. It dangles from a cable. A soldier bends both arms back and forth toward his head. The helicopter lowers the gun to the ground, releases the cable, then flies higher. The helicopter lands. A soldier passes rifles from the helicopter. Crates and bundles are passed down to soldiers and quickly carried away. Soldiers wheel a large gun up a ramp and onto the back of a truck. Soldiers chain it securely to the truck's tray.]

Troops by chopper-Borneo

This brief piece of footage shows Australian infantry boarding the helicopter that flies them to the point at which they must begin their patrol. The troops are then seen patrolling through thick jungle. Locals watch as the helicopter lands and collects its human cargo. (2:02 min - BW - Silent) [AWM F03665]

[In black and white footage a helicopter flies through a cloudy sky. A farmer works in a clearing as the helicopter descends over thick trees. A soldier signals to the landing helicopter, holding his arms high and waving them inwards, then holding them out and low. Soldiers standing and sitting among equipment watch the helicopter land. Lugging gear, men run to the helicopter. They load equipment onboard, then climb in. A shirtless man standing by the door helps. Buffeted by the downdraft locals smile. The helicopter takes off and flies over the group of locals.

Soldiers unload equipment from a helicopter and carry it away. Wearing gear on their backs, soldiers file along a wooden walkway. Holding guns, soldiers push through thick jungle and wade through waist-high plants.

The footage repeats from the start.]

Fighting Patrol

This film shows Australian soldiers training for the type of jungle warfare they expected to encounter in the jungles of Borneo during Confrontation. These men are being trained in counter-attacking after an ambush. In the event such incidents were comparatively rare, the Australians, however, were able to demonstrate their own proficiency in laying ambushes on several occasions. [AWM F03173]

Text transcript

[Soldiers moving through thick, head-high vegetation wear helmets camouflaged with leaves. They hold their rifles ready, diagonally across their bodies.]

NARRATOR: In hostile country where visibility is limited and movement restricted by jungle growth patrolling requires special skills for the infantry soldier.

[The six soldiers file through a field of head-high grass. The first soldier struggles through the long grass, flattening it for those behind him.]

NARRATOR: Practicing patrol techniques is an essential part of a soldier’’s training. He must have complete confidence in his own ability and be able to take his place as an efficient member of a fighting team.

[A soldier pushes through leaves and fern fronds, looks around warily, then continues. The soldiers wear packs on their backs. Looking around constantly, the soldiers move through shorter grass.]

NARRATOR: He must be alert for the slightest sound that could indicate the presence of the enemy. He must move silently, and at all times be prepared for immediate reaction to possible ambush.

[Long, thick grass is pushed aside, revealing a soldier lying on his stomach. He wears a different uniform. Soldiers in camouflaged uniforms edge across a rope bridge that runs over a murky river. Gripping the rope above their heads with both arms, they slide their boots across a second rope. An enemy soldier lying in the grass fires a machine gun.]

NARRATOR: Enemy barbed wire defences cause only a slight delay in the advance.

[Near the camouflaged soldiers, water explodes into the air. Two soldiers fall from the rope. One makes it to shore. More camouflaged soldiers wade across the river. Smoke billowing around them, camouflaged soldiers run from the jungle to the river. Near a dugout hidden in thick vegetation, their enemy keep shooting. Thick smoke drifts across a field. Camouflaged soldiers run through it and leap down a slope. Smoke explodes around rolls of barbed wire. Soldiers fall on the wire, flattening it. Their comrades run over it and splash through water.]

NARRATOR: Close enough now for grenades.

[Under fire, the camouflaged soldiers charge across a field. One dives into long grass. Crouching, a camouflaged soldier take a grenade from a pouch, pulls the pin and throws it. He and his comrades dive face down. In thick grass and vegetation, a huge cloud of smoke and dirt explodes into the air. Smoke drifts around a dugout. Holding a gun, an enemy soldier clambers out. A gun is aimed steadily. Another enemy soldier climbs out. Holding their guns high over their heads, the enemy soldiers walk from their dugout.]

NARRATOR: The mock enemy is beaten and members of the patrol are a step closer to mastery of the techniques of jungle warfare.

[The enemy soldiers are disarmed. Hands on their heads, they walk through the long grass at gunpoint.]

Operation Termite

This film is a fascinating look at July 1954’s Operation Termite in which the RAAF targeted two communist camps east of Ipoh in the state of Perak. [AWM F02784]

Text transcript

[In black and white footage the image of a leaping tiger appears against a mottled background. Credits read, “Malayan Film Unit presents.” On a black screen the title ‘Operation Termite’ appears in bold white letters. On an airfield, the propellers of fighter planes spin. A huge plane with two propellers on each wing soars into the air. Aerial footage shows cloud covering the jungle below. Five bombers fly over jungle. A river winds through the landscape far below. Through a bomber window, another bomber is visible.]

NARRATOR: At dawn one morning recently Lincoln bombers of the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force took off from Singapore to launch one of the biggest combined air ground attacks on communist terrorists hiding in the northern jungles of Malaya. The operation was code named ‘Operation Termite’. Loaded with 75 tons of 1,000-pound bombs which were to open the attack, the Lincolns set course for their targets. These were located in 250 square miles of the roughest and toughest jungle country in the Federation lying to the east of Ipoh.

[A long row of military planes wait on an airfield. Soldiers with backpacks, guns and parachutes clamber into a plane. A soldier at the door helps them onboard. The plane’s two propellers spin. It speeds down the runway and takes off. Mountains surround the airfield. The plane flies over a rolling jungle landscape. The men sit inside the dark plane.]

NARRATOR: While the Lincolns were on their way, paratroops of the Special Air Service Regiment were clambering into Vallettas at Kuala Lumpur airfield preparing to launch the second phase of the attack by following the bombs onto the targets. Loaded with their heavy equipment, some of it such as the new gear for descending trees being used in action for the first time. These men at first chatted and joked against the roaring engines. But soon gave up and just waited. Some fell asleep.

[The sleek Lincolns fly in formation across the mountainous jungle. Wearing a helmet and mask, the pilot peers from the windows. Each wing bears two stripes and an airforce roundel. An airman surrounded by windows checks a chart. As bomb doors slide open, the heavy round bombs are silhouetted against the sunny landscape below. The oblong bombs rain from the Lincolns. Explosions flare in the dense jungle far below.]

NARRATOR: By now the Lincolns had reached their targets. According to information this patch of jungle hides many communist camps. Bomb doors open. Bombs away! The two main targets showed utter devastation. Tops of trees were still falling hours later.

[On a base, officers in tropical uniforms walk past vehicles and stand outside a tent full of communication equipment. One officer is missing an arm - his empty sleeve swings in the breeze.]

NARRATOR: At advanced headquarters in Ipoh, the Director of Operations General Bourne, the commander in chief Far East Air Force Marshal Sanderson, and other senior officers were kept in touch with progress of the complex operation by air controllers over the targets.

[The Vallettas fly over jungle slopes. Inside, paratroopers prepare equipment. The pilot peers out the window at the dense jungle below. Holding equipment, paratroopers wait at the door. Above their heads one of two lights glows. It goes off and the other light comes on. The paratroopers jump rapidly one by one, a man ushers them out. A group of mushroom-shaped parachutes drop together through the sky. From the plane, the parachute are pale dots against the dark trees.]

NARRATOR: Vallettas now on target. SAS paratroops put on their helmets and make final checks on shoot straps. A doctor was one of the first men out, identified by a white bandage. sound of aircraft in flight First a dummy run to asses the wind drift. And then action station! The first stick of five men stand alert at the door. Red, green and away, as the dispatcher urges them out. And then the next stick goes. Dropping from 700 feet the men took just over a minute to reach the ground. There was not more than a 120 yards between the first and last man of each stick and there were only six minor injuries among the 200 paratroops who dropped.

[Soldiers climb into a helicopter. The cockpit protrudes above the body of the helicopter. It takes off. Its windows and doors open, the helicopter flies away, rotors spinning. From the helicopter, the dense jungle canopy provides no glimpses of the ground below. A rugged peak looms.]

NARRATOR: Meanwhile from Ipoh airfield, naval helicopters took off to carry Iban trackers Aborigine field teams and heavy radio equipment into the area. They later lifted out the injured paratroopers.

[Below, tiny helicopters hover over clearings in the jungle. A helicopter follows a path of fallen trees. Dwarfed by the jungle trees, a helicopter descends into a clearing, then hovers.]

NARRATOR: Landing sites were cut from the jungle for the helicopters by some of the SAS men while others closed in on the terrorist camps. Down they came on the scrap of clearing and went back for another load.

[Holding their guns ready, soldiers move through the thick shadowy jungle. Wading across a rocky stream, they feel carefully for a steady footing. They move from the stream into the dark jungle. Illuminated by light filtering through leaves, a local soldier scans the area.]

NARRATOR: Ground troops, some lead by the Iban trackers, set off on their arduous patrols. Patrols that may lead to nothing in this difficult country where a man can hide two feet away and not be seen.

[A helicopter hovers in the cloudy sky. It lands in a jungle clearing. A shrouded body strapped to a long pole is carried to the helicopter. Rotors spinning, the helicopter takes off. Below, buffeted by the downdraft, soldiers shield their faces.]

NARRATOR: In the first days of the operation three communist terrorists were killed camps were discovered and destroyed, valuable information was obtained and quantities of food clothing, equipment and ammunition were captured. The dead terrorists were lifted out to Ipoh for identification. From the latest reports the first phase of 'Operation Termite' was well on the way to achieving its object to disrupt the communist terrorist hideouts in the jungle east of Ipoh.

[On a black screen, credits read, “The End. Made at Malayan Film Unit Studios. Kuala Lumpur, Malaya.”]

Maxwell Veale served in HMAS Murchison during the Han River operation.

“We used to bombard all night and sleep all day, just to keep them awake and upset them. And we done this for weeks and we had two JMLs there with us, they were Japanese motor launches, they were gunboats. With a 40mm gun and a couple of Oerlikons sitting each side. And they were [manned by South] Koreans. And they used to go in along the shore and they’d machine gun and all that, and then come back out. And they made it where we could [find] a passageway around the basin of the river. We were in the basin of the river and there was a passageway, like a gully right round where you could go right round but you had to drop your anchor, wait for the tide to turn so you could turn around, because you never had enough room to turn around with engines, and then come back out again.

And we had done this three or four times and that was good, but this day we went in and they were waiting for us. And we hadn’t turned, we were going up towards the turn, and the lookout looked over, we were at action stations, and the lookout looked over and he said to the captain, ‘Sir those haystacks are moving.’ And the skipper, looking at them with binoculars, [saw that] they were moving, they had anti-tank guns behind them, they were tanks, moving. And they waited until we stopped, and that’s when we had to turn and that’s when they hit us. And they threw all this at us and of course we threw a lot back too. And that’s when they put all the holes in her [HMAS Murchison], as we turned, because we could only train one turret on them.”

Find out more about the role of the HMAS Murchison in the Han River operation.

Bill Simmond, a fighter pilot, describes shooting down an enemy aircraft.

“On the day in question I was flying one of 16 aircraft from 77 Squadron and we were operating in the general area of Pyongyang which is the North Korean capital. At the time there were probably 30 or 40 US airforce Sabres engaging probably an equal number of MiG-15s.

Our formation was flying probably several thousand feet below the Americans and the first indication I had of any real danger was when I observed three distinct lines of tracer ammunition going over my left wing. Instinctively I pulled away from these bullets by simply going into a hard right turn. I’d hardly begun the turn when I observed a MiG-15 fly straight underneath me. My immediate impression was that this was too good an opportunity to miss so I reversed and started to follow him and I accelerated at the same time. When he was probably a couple of hundred yards in front I started firing and although I was still accelerating he was moving away from me. Finally some of the bullets obviously hit his aircraft because there was a large plume of smoke was emitted from around the fuselage area. And the next thing I saw was his aircraft pitch up, obviously out of control, and as I was aware that there were other MiGs in the area I rolled to the left, into a hard turn just to ensure that there was nobody behind me. And as I went into the turn the flight leader observed the pilot of the MiG to bail out. He ejected, the parachute deployed and presumably he landed safely. Meanwhile we, our section of four aircraft, regrouped and we continued flying there for another 10 or 15 minutes before we redeployed, flew back to base.

The whole thing took maybe 30 seconds but that’s the nature of air combat these days. Long, sort of drawn out dogfighting, that was relegated to World War Two really. With jet aircraft using so much fuel you’ve got to get into it and out of it in a hurry otherwise you won’t have enough fuel to get home.”

Find out more about 77 Squadron and MiGs v Meteors.

Kerry Smith recalls visiting the grave of his friend in Korea when the war ended and again 40 years later.

“I looked at his grave, it had a cross, that they had there, it was just a sort of a wooden cross with his name on it and that sort of thing, serial number. And I couldn’t, I didn’t have the guts to talk to him then.

When we went back in ’93 we walked around the graves, lot of the fellows that we knew who had been killed, I mean a lot of blokes lost a lot of mates. And I went and had a look at his grave, the headstone. I placed a card there... on which I had written to him asking his forgiveness for not going to his funeral...I’ll have to have a drink of water I think...

I knew he could read it but I printed it so he could read it because my writing is shocking, but I told him too. So we had a bit of a talk. He said, ‘How are you going Smithy?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it mate’.”

Find out more about casualties in the Korean War.

Richard Arundel was a midshipman in the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney.

“One day, just after we went on patrol I happened to be sitting at breakfast with a young man with a slightly burnt face from bailing out of a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain, afterwards he had joined the RAN. Should be sitting beside me and in a very relaxed style he conversed with me which I found rather interesting because I was a Midshipman, you were the dirt of the earth of course. And we had a little conversation, he had his breakfast and he went off.

And I was in the operations room a little while later to hear him being shot down, and that was the end of him. He was our first casualty, Lieutenant Clarkson.”

Find out about the operations of the HMAS Sydney in the Korean War.

Stanley Connolly served with 3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment at the Battle of Kapyong.

“We charged and we began to get shot down. I remember my good friend Gene Tunny on my right falling in the advance and then my big mate Rod Grey on my left, went down shot through the chest and the bullets were cracking, cracking, you can, as they go past you can hear them cracking, you know, because they sort of break the sound barrier. It’s louder than the crack of the weapon firing them. And it seemed to me that there were so many bullets coming that it was like walking or running into a very stiff breeze.

And I knew that most of the section had been knocked down and by this time I’m within ten foot of the Chinese trench when bang, something hit me and I didn’t know what it was you know. It absolutely blew the legs out from underneath me and I crashed to the ground carrying this bloody great Bren gun and all the ammunition in basic pouches and so on— I’m carrying about 80 pound of gear and equipment.

And I’m sprawled out on the ground and I know I’ve been hit and I don’t know where. And I can hear the Chinese talking to each other in the trench because the attack then had subsided. It was over as far as we were concerned and they were concerned. And I’m thinking what they are saying to each other is ‘will we shoot these guys in the head and make sure they are dead,’ because we’d be thinking the same thing. So the thought occurred to me that it might be a good move to try and get out of there. But I wasn’t sure if I could get up and I certainly wasn’t sure if I could walk or run. Anyhow when you’ve got battle gear on you’ve got a clip on your belt and everything is attached to the belt and you can just unsnap the belt and just shuck all the gear, everything will come off and fall away from you except the Bren gun which is on a sling across my neck, so with a great deal of speed and agility I slipped the Bren gun sling off my neck and unclipped the belt and jumped to my feet. Then I realised that where I had been shot was through the right thigh. So I sort of hopped and skipped and jumped and well, made my, retreated rapidly in that manner and fortunately after about 20 or 30 yards I was able to drive down behind a low mound. Meantime the inaccurate Chinese are having pot shots at me trying to stop me.

So here we are, most of the section blown away and we’ve had a close look at this trench and we can see that there’s about 70 or 80 Chinese in it, not the eight or ten that we expected. And we are pinned down because they’ve got covering fire from the hill we vacated the night before so nobody is moving. Everybody is pinned down and we are back to square one where we started from.

Anyhow after a short interval a whole platoon, Four Platoon, got organised and they put in a proper, systematic, well planned attack and they wiped out, they killed the 80 odd Chinese in the trenches. They lost a couple of lives in the action, but they wiped them out you know. And then the medics were able to come in and help our wounded. Rod had been shot through the chest, Gene Tunny had been also shot through the thigh. They were shooting low, I don’t know why. But nobody died in our attack, in our section attack, even though the whole section were wounded one way and another, they all got away with their lives.”

Find out more about the Battle of Kapyong.

Grace Halstead was a nurse who took care of the sick and wounded on RAAF flights from Korea to a hospital in Japan.

“And the sister, in this case me and this other sister, would receive them into the plane in their litters. And that was highly organised because they had to go according to their injuries. In fact the fractures were on the upper litters so the fractured limb would be out of the way. And they came right down four litters either side so that’s eight, plus walkers and psychos and so on. And the ones most seriously ill would be right on the bottom litter and right up near the bulkhead so that the sister would be, on take-off and landing, sitting between the two seriously ill patients.

And then once we took off we then started to, on each pannier, which was the litter, was a little message about each patient so we knew exactly what was wrong with them and what they needed on the journey, which was three and a half hours. And if it was calm it was wonderful and if it wasn’t calm it wasn’t so wonderful particularly when we had to hop over the mountains. Of course we didn’t have, it wasn’t, we needed oxygen in the plane if we went above 10,000 feet and quite often we gave oxygen during the trip.

However when I actually graduated I did a couple [of trips] on my own, we were the only medical people on board of course. The pilot and the navigator and the whole crew were marvellous because they would ask what sort of patients we had on, and how we wanted them to fly and if they were colostomies, which would of course have a colostomy bag that needed attention and they needed to fly as low as they possibly could. If they had to go up really high we had to have oxygen cylinders ready, well I did because I was the only one there this particular flight.”

Find out more about the role of Australian nurses in the Korean War.

A newsreel showing Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett (right) outside the Sydney Town Hall at the beginning of his lecture tour.

The opening title of the video states: ‘SYDNEY – Mr E. Ashmead Bartlett, who has come to tell us of the Anzacs’ immortal deeds at Gallipoli – Australian Gazette’. The short 19 second clip that follows shows Ashmead-Bartlett and an unknown man standing outside the Sydney Town Hall. Ashmead-Bartlett adjusts his suit and walking stick for the camera, and takes a puff of his cigarette. They shake hands and walk off to the right.

...commanded 2/1st Infantry Battalion during the Australian advance. He recalls witnessing hand-to-hand combat at Oivi-Gorari.

PAUL CULLEN: And again we encircled the Japanese position. And with another battalion from 7th Division...we killed over 300. And one of the extraordinary sights I've ever seen, when we encircled these Japs so we could capture the position and kill them all, and vast stores of rice and things...a Japanese officer raced out with his sword - drawn sword, samurai sword - and...Lieutenant St George Ryder - great name - one of our lieutenants...grappled with him, and his weapon had jammed. Just luck of the game, you know. It happens in every battle, I suppose. And they grappled together. And any rate, someone else came up, one of our chaps, and shot this Japanese who had so gallantly and bravely raced towards us waving his sword. You know, extraordinary sight. You wouldn't think you'd see it in this 1942 war, would you?

...flew with 75 Squadron at Milne Bay. He tells of the capture of a Japanese pilot.

ARTHUR GOULD: We shot down a Jap Val, a dive bomber thing. And he crash-landed on the beach, well away from us and quite a long way away. And the natives got him and brought him in for interrogation. We found out he was a Jap officer, we were going to have to get stuff out of him. And I was at the strip at the opposite end. And they walked this bloke in. They had him like a pig - they had a pole on the shoulder of this fellow and another fellow - another kanaka - up in front, and they had this bloke strung like a stuck pig with his wrists and his ankles on this thing. His wrists were nearly cut through from the vines. Anyhow, they dumped him in front of the army and they took the thing off him. And he was on the ground there and they were going to talk to him. And an air force cook came up and said, "My first bloody Jap," pulled out his gun and shot him there and then, so we never did get him and interrogate. I don't know what happened to the cook, I bet he was in serious trouble after that. But that was it, he was going to kill a Jap before he finished the war.

...of 2/16th Infantry Battalion, was subject to a bombardment of Japanese artillery on Ioribaiwa Ridge.

[A veteran faces the camera.]

ERIC WILLIAMS: And Bill Grayden and myself, I was the sergeant, he was the officer behind them. And unfortunately, these blokes had their head against this tree and I suppose the Japs must have seen us from over there. The next thing we knew was this mountain gun was fired and exploded in the tree just above our head. And it killed the three blokes with their head on the tree because the percussion goes straight...split their skulls open. And knocked out Bill Grayden, who was right alongside me. I was alright. I thought, "Christ!"

I could see they were dead. And I thought Bill was dead. I made a bit of a boo-boo - I should have made sure he was dead. So I grabbed all the grenades, 'cause I reckoned it was no good giving them to the Japs. So I just chucked them down the side, including Bill's. Took the bolts out of their rifles so the Japs couldn't use them, tossed those off and pissed off.

And when I got back to battalion, which wasn't far - here to the gate and back or something - no sign of the Japs. I didn't wait. I'm not a hero. Went back and reported that these three blokes were killed and Bill Grayden. And I suppose about a quarter of an hour later, who should come lurching up the track? It was Bill Grayden. Silly as a weirdo, he'd been only knocked out. Of course, I felt dreadful, you know. I'd left him. I thought he was dead, same as the other blokes.

...describes the reaction of the Australians in Port Moresby to the shooting down of a Japanese aircraft.

[A veteran faces the camera.]

GORDON BAILEY: That afternoon, a lone recce [reconnaissance plane] came over. The recce planes from the Japanese would just come over, you know, having a day afternoon out, go over and have a look at what the troops are doing at Moresby. And they'd cruise around like they owned the place, you know. And they did this and the two [Australian] Kittyhawks were just waiting up in the sky somewhere. And they got over Bootless Bay and they shot the what's-the-name [plane] down over Bootless Bay, this observation plane. You could hear the roar of the troops, you know. Everybody roared when it went down. It sounded like you were at the Melbourne MCG at the grand final or something. Fantastic. Really beaut.

...tells of conditions at 2/9th Australian General Hospital in Port Moresby during the Kokoda track fighting.

[A female veteran faces the camera.]

HELEN McCALLUM: And our convalescent patients used to help us with the care of the wards as far as the sweeping and the watering. And we used to rely on them to help us with a number of things because our staff was fairly short. And if they had a friend who was not very well, they would sit beside him and give him his drinks and hold his cigarette for him and things like that.

They were very courageous, they were very bright and humorous, they were very supportive of each other, they were very supportive of us and we all got on very well. And there was a lot of fun and games and, you know, sort of casual talk up and down the wards.

It was a wonderful atmosphere and I had a great admiration for those men. They were so brave, they put up with the discomforts. And they actually put on weight while they were in hospital. Our meals mightn't be very good, but away from the tensions of fighting conditions and getting regular meals, they would actually put on weight. We had one patient who was very, very thin and the men called him the 'greyhound pup'. And they were going to win all sorts of races with the greyhound pup. And they said after a while, "Sis, you'll have to cut down on his food, he's putting on too much weight."

Read more about Casualties.

...a platoon commander of 3rd Infantry Battalion, gives an account of being wounded at the Battle of Buna-Gona.

[A veteran faces the camera.]

COLIN RICHARDSON: His reaction - he said he thought I was dead but in any case he'd patch me up. He got out what catgut he had and sewed me up this entry hole here.

[Colin Richardson touches the left side of his chest.]

COLIN RICHARDSON: And then rolled me over and to his horror... I don't know whether you want me to read his words, but he saw this bloody great hole in the back and, horror of horrors, no more catgut. He said, "I did have half a dozen rusty safety pins in the bottom of my pouch. So I did what I could to patch you up with the pins and then the priest gave you the last rites and we had to leave you." He got a couple of boongs to carry me back to our company headquarters and I was put with a couple of other boys who were dead - truly dead. Next morning, they came - the doc came - and his sergeant said, "Hey, sir, this fellow's just opened an eye."

...of 39 Infantry Battalion, reflects on the fate of his friends during and after the Papuan campaign.

"...The rest of them are gone. Those that didn't get killed there [at Kokoda] got killed up at Gona..."

[A veteran faces the camera.]

LAWRENCE DOWNES: I had a couple of good leaders. There's a couple of them still alive. But their memories are gone. One of them was decorated. But at Kokoda, in my original section, three were given Military Medals. And there was only five of the originals there. So someone did some good.

They're all, bar one, gone. Ron Dryden died in Ballarat. Vic Smythe died... He had a block up at Robinvale. He got it after he'd been battling around Melbourne skinning rabbits and that. He put in for a block and he got a block up there. Well, he's dead. Alec - he's still alive but he's had a stroke. He don't go anywhere, do nothing. The rest of them are gone. Those that didn't get killed there [at Kokoda] got killed up at Gona. They just kept pushing them back in.

‘At Kokoda Plateau, four monuments, one of them Japanese, line the plateau edge.’

See also The Tide Turns: Retaking Kokoda: Kokoda recaptured, 2 November 1942

[Aerial footage sweeps over a tree-covered plain, across a river and follows a road winding toward a village.
Text: Kokoda Village.]
[Near the village steep slopes rise to a wide grassy plateau that's dotted with trees and buildings. On one edge of the plateau four white monuments flank three white flagpoles. A verdant lawn stretches before them. The triangular monuments are of a similar shape and height but are not identical.
Text: Kokoda Plateau.]

VOICEOVER: At dawn on 2 November 1942, an Australian patrol crept into Kokoda to find that the Japanese had gone. The next day, now known as Kokoda Day, the Australians commemorated the event with a flag-raising ceremony held there, where the flagpoles now stand. On either side are memorials to those who died. The furthest to the right remembers the Japanese who never returned home from Papua. Within a week of retaking Kokoda, the Australians pressed on down the road to the north coast. They caught up with and destroyed the Japanese army at Oivi-Gorari.]

‘The Japanese objective in 1942 – Port Moresby, as it is today.’

See also The War in Papua: The Strategic Context: Why was Port Moresby important?

[On a point protruding into the sea, high-rise buildings stand near a tropical harbour. Wharves stretch into the blue water. Buildings cover the tree-clad slopes of nearby hills. The coastline curves inland. Cargo ships sit between Port Moresby and the tree-clad hills across the bay.]

VOICEOVER: Today, Port Moresby is a peaceful place. With a thriving port, and central business district, it is nothing like it was in 1942. Then, as the main objective of the Japanese in Papua, it was bombed from the air over a hundred times. More than its airfields, storage facilities, and a fresh water supply, the Japanese desired this harbour. From here, should the Japanese so decide, their fleet could launch an invasion of Australia. Without this harbour in their hands, that was not possible.

[Further into the harbour, houses on stilts crowd the shallow waters of a cove. Many houses in the coastal village have rusted roofs. A cargo ship waits nearby. Across the harbour, the sea is visible beyond the tree-clad slopes.]

VOICEOVER: Allied anti-aircraft positions still lie on the surrounding hills. The wreck of the MV Macdui. sunk by air attack on 17 June 1942, can still be seen in the harbour.

[A painting of a burning warship fades into the blue waters of the modern-day harbour.]

Remembering the Kokoda track

See also About the Kokoda Track: 1942 and Today

[The sun shines on a valley running through a jungle-clad mountain range.
Title: The Kokoda Track.
Text: Exploring the site of the battle fought by Australians in World War II.

Long rows of white marble military headstones stretch hypnotically across the green lawns of a large, well-maintained cemetery. Small colourful shrubs are planted between the headstones. The thousands of headstones are engraved with military badges and the names and details of the fallen soldiers.
Text: Bomana Cemetery. 19 kilometres from Port Moresby at the southern end of the Kokoda track.

A blanket of thick white cloud shrouds the lower slopes of a jungle valley.
Text: The Battle of Isurava, 26-31 August 1942.
A black and white photo of a smiling dark-haired man appears over the valley.
Text: During this battle, Private Bruce Kingsbury won the Victoria Cross for bravery, losing his life.

A creek winds through thick jungle, its water foaming white over dark rocks.
Text: Eora Creek.
A black-and-white photo superimposed over the trees shows a local man and children carrying a soldier on a stretcher over a rocky creek.

White cloud shrouds mountain peaks.
Text: The Battle of Mission Ridge-Brigade Hill. Efogi 6-9 September 1942.
Aerial footage follows a rugged mountain ridge that's covered with dense jungle.
Text: A week after Isurava, another attempt was made to stop the Japanese advance. Again the Australians were defeated with 87 dead and 77 wounded yet these figures are not a true reflection of the disaster which occurred at Efogi...

Wide, flat marshland is surrounded by rugged mountains.
Text: Myola 2.
A series of black and white photos are superimposed over the landscape. The first shows soldiers filing through long grass. In the second photo a soldier kneels, his head bowed, his arms crossed in front of his body. More soldiers are crouched behind him. The third photo shows a soldier supporting a local woman. The photos fade, revealing the vast green and brown plain.

A road runs between a village and the base of a wide grassy plateau.
Text: Kokoda Village.
The black-and-white photo of a dark-haired officer is superimposed over the village.
Text: In the first engagement at Kokoda on 28 July 1942 the Japanese defeated Lieutenant Colonel Owen's force. Lt Col Owen was struck by a bullet and died the next day. He was the first Australian to receive the American Distinguished Service Cross.

In a plain dotted with trees, grass-covered mounds form a rough E-shape.
Text: The Battle of the Beachheads. Gona, Buna, Sanananda. November 1942-January 1943.
Palm trees fringe a narrow beach of dark sand. A series of black-and-white photos show soldiers and vehicles near tall palm trees. Soldiers aim a machine gun.

A wide creek runs past low buildings and through clustered palm trees toward a bay.

In a black-and-white photo 10 soldiers pose grinning near dark trees.
A photo shows two Australian soldiers with two Japanese prisoners.
Three young soldiers in helmets and crumpled tropical uniforms grin at the camera.
Three Australian soldiers stand sombre-faced near bodies lying sprawled on fallen palm fronds.
A soldier gazes directly into the camera. He is bare-chested and has a light beard. He wears a slouch hat with its brim down.
A soldier wearing only shorts and boots puts flowers by the white cross headstone of Private BS Kingsbury. More white crosses are arranged in long orderly rows.
A large group of soldiers pose near tents.
Text: The War in Papua had begun with Australian retreats from Kokoda in July and August 1942 in the face of the Japanese advance. Driving to within 40 kilometres from Port Moresby, the Japanese retreated. The Australians, now advancing along the Kokoda Track drove the Japanese back, retaking Kokoda on 2 November 1942.]

Bomana lies 19 kilometres from Port Moresby at the southern end of the Kokoda track.
The remains of 3779 Australians and their Allies rest at Bomana.

[Text: Bomana Cemetery.
A white marble headstone is engraved with the Rising Sun badge and the words:

"VX61264 Private. J.A. Ferguson. 2/14 Infantry Battalion. 29th August 1942, Age 22."

In the well-maintained cemetery thousands of identical headstones are arranged in long orderly rows.]

VOICEOVER: This is the grave of Private John Alan Ferguson of Dandenong Victoria. He was 22 years old when he was killed at Isurava on the 29 August 1942. He rests here with 3,778 others. The names of 237 of them are unknown.

Text: The Kokoda Track.
Exploring the site of the battle fought by Australians in World War II.
© Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Australia 2010.
Music © Mark Douglas Williams 2010.]

Sanananda - the last Japanese stronghold to fall.

[See also The Japanese Besieged – the Battle of the Beachheads: Buna, Gona, Sanananda]

[A wide creek lined with palm trees and green fields runs toward the ocean. It passes a group of buildings on stilts. Most have traditional brown roofs. A few have white roofs.]

VOICEOVER: Sanananda, was the very centre of the Japanese base on the north coast of Papua. In 1942, this area was covered by storage sheds, piles of equipment, ammunition dumps, and hospitals. On the beach, the rusty remains of the barges used to bring all this ashore can still be seen.

[Text: The battlefield toward Buna.
Trees dotting a wide grassy plain thicken into forest.]

VOICEOVER: On New Year's Day, 1943, the Australian 2/12 Infantry Battalion, Tasmanians and Queenslanders, charged across this now overgrown airstrip at Buna, and into the heart of the Japanese defences.

'Gona - the northern most of the three Japanese entrenched positions.'

See also The Japanese Besieged-the Battle of the Beachheads: Buna, Gona, Sanananda

[In aerial footage a flat tree-clad landscape stretches to distant mountains. A wide creek winds through thick trees. The brown roofs of buildings are visible through the trees.
Text: Gona village.]

VOICEOVER: In the foreground is Gona Creek and the village of Gona where, in November 1942, 900 Japanese were entrenched with their backs to the sea. The Owen Stanley Range lies in the distance, with Port Moresby beyond.

[Palm trees grow on thick grass fringing the dark brown sand of a beach.]

VOICEOVER: This black-sand beach on the shores of the Solomon Sea, now so tranquil, was, in December 1942, the scene of the Battle of Gona, where the Japanese garrison was destroyed and 220 Australians died.

[The image freezes on a section of beach. On the grassy shore, palm trees tower near a small building.]

‘From Kokoda the track follows the gorge of Eora Creek.’

See also The Tide Turns: Australian advance to Eora: 13-27 October 1942

[In aerial footage, a creek winds through dense green jungle, its water foaming white over the dark rocks.
Text: Eora Creek.]

VOICEOVER: Over many thousands of years, Eora Creek has cut a deep gorge into the Owen Stanley Range. It rises near the crest of the range at Myola and flows north, feeding into the Mambare River near Kokoda. The Kokoda Track follows Eora Creek from Myola to Mambare. And here, where Eora village once stood, it crosses the fast-flowing creek on a bridge made of a few logs tied together.

[The footage freezes on a clearing in the jungle - a grassy plateau overlooking the creek just before it disappears into the trees. Below the plateau, a section of bank is cleared. Beyond the plateau, jungle-clad slopes rise to cloud-covered mountain peaks.]

‘The Isurava battlefield – where Bruce Kingsbury won the Victoria Cross.’

See also Into the Mountains: Falling back to Deniki: 12-14 August 1942

[A blanket of thick white cloud shrouds a valley that runs through a jungle-covered mountain range.
Text: Deniki to Isurava.]

VOICEOVER: Looking south from Deniki towards Isurava, the battlefield is in part covered with low cloud as it is on most days and as it was in late August 1942 when the Battle of Isurava, a Japanese victory, was fought. On both slopes of this gorge, 6,000 Australians, Papuans and Japanese fought for five days. 300 men were killed. one of them was the Kokoda Track's only Victoria Cross winner, Private Bruce Kingsbury.]

‘In 1942 Kokoda airstrip was the only viable airstrip for 100 kilometres.’

See also A Fighting Retreat: First engagement at Kokoda 28 July 1942

[Aerial footage sweeps over a tree-covered plain towards a plantation of palm trees. A long straight strip of flat grass runs alongside the plantation. Nearby, a river curves through the trees. Thick pale cloud shrouds the horizon.
Text: Kokoda airstrip.]

VOICEOVER: Halfway between Port Moresby and Buna is Kokoda airstrip. Built in 1932 to support mining along the Mambare River, the strip is now used by trekkers arriving to walk the Kokoda Track from the northern end or leaving after walking from the southern end.

[Near one end of the airstrip brown-roofed buildings form a U-shape in a clearing. Aerial footage swoops away from the airstrip and follows a narrow road that runs towards low houses clustered among thick trees. Just before it reaches the village, the road curves past steep grassy slopes that lead up to a verdant plateau.
Text: Kokoda Plateau.]

VOICEOVER: In the fighting of 1942, this airstrip was vital ground - the only place where an aircraft could land for 100km in either direction. The army which held it could fly in supplies and reinforcements to their men at the front line. Overlooking Kokoda Village and next to the airstrip, Kokoda Plateau is a natural defensive bastion. When the Japanese first attacked Kokoda soon after midnight on the morning of 29 July 1942, it was held by a small Australian and Papuan force, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Owen. Owen was killed here when the Japanese advance surged up the steep sides of the plateau and forced the Australians and Papuans to retreat.

[The wide grassy plateau is dotted with trees and low buildings. On the edge closest to the village, four white monuments, each bearing a plaque, flank three bare white flagpoles.]

‘The Australians air dropped supplies at Myola 2.’

See also Jungle Warfare: The problem of supply

[Aerial footage moves over a the thick jungle covering a long mountain ridge. Beyond the ridge, rolling slopes descend to a vast green plain nestled among tree-clad mountains. The plain is mottled with shades of green and brown. A long strip of pale grass flanks a creek winding through the centre of the plain.]

VOICEOVER: Over this ridge is a sight that seems out of place 2,000m above sea level, in the midst of the rugged Owen Stanley Range. It is Myola 2, a huge expanse of marsh with streams running north, the source of Eora Creek. The Australians realised Myola's suitability for the airdropping of supplies, which otherwise had to be carried all the way from Port Moresby. Transport aircraft swooped low and slow across Myola while packages of food and ammunition were pushed out the door.]

‘The Australians held the high ground overlooking Efogi.’

See also Into the Mountains: Disaster at Efogi 8 September 1942

[Mountains covered in dense jungle roll to the horizon. Aerial footage follows the uneven, rugged line of one mountain ridge.
Text: Mission Ridge near Efogi.]

VOICEOVER: Usually, the Kokoda Track climbs and descends across over row after row of jagged ridges against the grain of the country. Sometimes, as here near Efogi, it follows the line of a ridge crest. On the night before the battle of Mission Ridge-Brigade Hill, the Japanese marched along this ridge from right to left. They used makeshift lamps to find their way. The Australians looking down on them from Mission Ridge saw the line of lights snaking along the crest, but had no weapon with sufficient range to fire on them.

Interview Mick Malone, SAS

Australians at War Film Archive, Interview No.2087

Trooper 'Mick' Malone, 3rd Special Air Service Squadron who served in Vietnam between 22 February 1969 and 18 February 1970, discusses his reaction to Australian protestors.

Interview 2 David Williams Australians at War Film Archive, Interview No.2362

Ship’s diver David Williams who served in HMAS Vampire discusses his feelings about the discrimination against Vietnam veterans.

Interview 3 Lieutenant Barry Smith, 1st Australian Civil Affairs Unit Australians at War Film Archive, Interview No.2144

Civil Affairs Officer Lieutenant Barry Smith returned to Vietnam in 1990. During his visit he was shocked to discover the local impact of the loss of so many South Vietnamese men.

Vietnamese and Australians on joint operation [AWM F04403]

A seven-week joint operation between Delta Company, 6RAR, and the 3rd Battalion, 52nd Regiment of the 18th Army of the Republic of Vietnam Division, ended with a five-day operation in the Nui Thi Vai hills north-west of the Task Force base at Nui Dat, November 1969. Major Mick Gill from Qld commanded Delta Company; Captain Tan was the ARVN Battalion Commander.

Interview 6 Second Lieutenant Dave Sabben, 12 Platoon, D Company, 6RAR Australians at War Film Archive Interview No.2585

Second Lieutenant David Sabben, 6RAR, discusses his response to anti-war protestors.

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